Considering our city’s reputation as Canada’s party capital, it’s no surprise that the sweetest events at NXNE were masterminded by a bunch of Montrealers. As it turns out, the organization behind the annual “M for Montreal” festival have been keeping busy with “M on the Road”: a series of showcases at festivals abroad that aim to promote both local and Canadian talent. Not only did they put together some killer lineups, but both of their events took place in unique venues that made for two days of music spectaculars.
For Friday’s show, M teamed up with the residents of 159 Manning to throw a good ol’ fashioned backyard barbecue. Three stages were set up on the property⎯one in the backyard, another in the living room, and one more in the basement⎯for guests to rotate between throughout the day, showcasing acts from various genres. With an engaging collection of performances, some nice grub from the grill, a hearty crowd of festival-goers and the added perk of BYOB, M for 159 Manning delivered good times all around. Here are some of the day’s highlights:
(All photos by Courtney Baird-Lew & Charles-Elie Bedard)
Starting things off was a rousing performance by Bloodshot Bill, Montreal’s own one-man rockabilly band. Though the backyard was a little on the empty side when he first began, people gradually filed in as he played, forming a decent crowd around 159 Manning’s makeshift stage. Exuding just as much bravado and charm as the night before (he also played a show at Lee’s Palace), Bloodshot tore through his songs at a breakneck pace, simultaneously covering percussion, guitar, vocals, and showmanship with ease. His lewd vocal stylings got everyone smiling and gave the BBQ a strong start.
A pop-rock artist from Toronto, Laura Hermiston’s sultry voice floated over dreamy electro tracks and glittery guitar. Her vocals had a great balance of softness and sass, while the music’s groovy quality had everyone feeling laid-back.
A l l i e
We caught A l l i e in the living room, which was an ideal, cozy setting for her smooth R&B sound. With an air of seductiveness and the voice to match, A l l i e’s performance made even the most uptight attendees relax.
We returned to the backyard in time for Xiu Xiu, not knowing quite what to expect. Described as “post-punk, synth pop, and avant-garde”, we guessed that it would probably be dark, definitely experimental, most definitely trippy music. Unfortunately, what he delivered was dark, experimental, and trippy, but not exactly musical: twenty-five minutes of piercing feedback/wind tunnel sounds that practically perforated the ears of everyone within a mile radius. Meanwhile, the man behind it all sat calmly behind his equipment, plugs nestled snugly in his ears, refusing to look at the crowd. As music, it sucked. And if it was meant to be a joke, Xiu Xiu’s got one twisted sense of humour.
Luckily, Invasions was there to pick up the party’s mood right after. Described as “a lost soundtrack for a Quentin Tarantino movie”, this Toronto-based band played some Western-inspired garage rock that had the crowded living room grooving. With a healthy dose of surf rock, their set was filled with catchy, shimmery guitar riffs, crooning vocals and cinematic brass.
All in all, M’s first day of music offerings at NXNE was surprisingly laid-back ⎯ festival-goers took in the bands contentedly, working up to a healthy level of day-drunk as the afternoon wore on. As far as chill NXNE events go, the folks from M definitely delivered.